There are two types of wolves in Israel today. There is the smaller Arabian wolf living in the Negev and the larger Asian wolf living in the Golan. They were once widespread, but many were eradicated by means of heavy poisons in the 1950s and today only a few hundred remain.

The first occurrence of wolf in the Bible is found in Genesis 49:27, “Benjamin shall ravin as a wolf: in the morning he shall devour the prey, and at night he shall divide the spoil.” This describes the savage nature of the wolf, a hunter only seen at dawn or dusk. Habakkuk 1:8 describes the Chaldeans as “more fierce than the evening wolves.”

The wolf became a symbol of a cunning and dangerous ruler. In Ezekiel 22:27 we read, “Her princes in the midst thereof are like wolves ravening the prey, to shed blood, and to destroy souls, to get dishonest gain.” Similarly the prophet Zephaniah describes the vicious evil of Israel’s judges in this way: “her judges are evening wolves; they gnaw not the bones till the morrow” (Zeph 3:3).

Wolves are best known as predators of sheep and as such become a symbol of false prophets, mauling and destroying the flock of God (Matt 7:15; 10:16). Paul styled them “grievous wolves” in Acts 20:29, by which he meant rapacious and harsh leaders. Our Lord made the point in John 10:11-14 that the good shepherd gives his life for the sheep, unlike the hireling who flees at the first hint of the wolf ’s presence.

In the Kingdom Age there will be a dramatic transformation of nature when the wolf and the lamb shall feed together in complete harmony (Isa 11:6; 65:25). Whilst this will literally occur, it is also a striking symbol of the way mankind’s savagery will be removed from the world.